5 tips for buying safe toys this holiday

Child unwraps toy

Toys are usually at the top of lists for Santa, but ADC pediatricians often advise parents to stop and do some checking before they buy toys for children.

Not all toys are safe for kids of all ages, and it’s important to make sure toys meet certain safety standards before they show up under the tree.

Here are 5 things to look for when you head out to the stores this holiday.

1) How large is it?

Choking and suffocation accounted for one-third of all toy-related deaths reported to the Consumer Product Safety Commission in 2009.

Children younger than 4 are at the greatest risk. Hazards are usually small and round or cylindrical and can easily obstruct the airway.

What to look for:

You want to think BIG. Make sure a child cannot fit the toy in their mouth. A good way to check is by check the toy with an empty toilet paper tube. If it can fall through the tube, it’s likely a child can swallow it.

Also, avoid balloons. Balloons and pieces of broken balloons are very dangerous because they can completely block a child’s airway.

2) How loud is it?

How loud is the toy you want to buy? Children have sensitive ears, and loud toys could damage their hearing. If it’s too loud for you, it’s probably too loud for a child.

What you can do:

If you really want to give the toy, remove the batteries or cover the speakers with duct tape.

3) Does it shoot objects in the air?

Toys than can send projectiles into the air could cause eye injuries or be choked on.

What you can do:

Read the label and make sure it’s appropriate for the child you intend to give it to.

4) Is it well made?

Make sure you buy toys than won’t break or tear apart easily. Broken pieces or small objects inside toys can be a choking or strangulation hazard.

What to look for:

Check stuffed toys to make sure pieces, like ribbons or eyes, are attached tightly and seams are secure. Look for sturdy plastic that won’t break apart easily.

5) Does it have small metal pieces?

Avoid toys with powerful magnets or watch batteries. Some magnetic toys have been recalled because they can cause internal damage if swallowed. The acid inside small batteries can also be fatal if swallowed.

What you can do:

Check the CPSC’s website for recall information, and keep small batteries away from children.


6) Does the child have younger siblings?

What you can do

If you’re buying a toy for a child with younger brothers or sisters, make sure the item is safe for those kids as well. It’s very common for siblings to share toys in a household, and toys appropriate for an older child often have small parts or pieces that could be hazardous for younger kids.

boy opens present

Look for toys that are appropriate for all ages. Books are a great option!

Doing your homework will go a long way toward making sure the toys you give are safe for all kids.

What else do you look for in a safe toy? Share your tips in the comments section below.